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Odds & Ends: ET as Dostoyevsky Novel Edition

by poemless Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 06:22:54 PM EST

Contents: Meta Meta, Metaphor, Meditation, Mediation, and Something of literary quality.

I've been asked to write a diary in which I put forth (again) the theory that European Tribune bears an uncanny resemblence to a Dostoyevsky novel.  I don't really want to do this, since I'd just be repeating myself.  And I know for a fact a significant number of you have not even read Dostoyevsky and will have no idea what I'm talking about, and, well, like Colman said, I'm not your freaking teacher people!  

On the other hand, I do savor your praise.  And while I've never been the "team player" type, I suppose I can make an attempt to try to maybe be accommodating to our FPers in the name of truth and reconciliation.  After all, one can't go on fighting forever.  Eventually you have to have hot make-up sex.  Or kill someone.  Which, if my theory holds any water, is more likely to occur here.  Hm.  When I am done, someone should calculate the number of hot sex scenes v. the number of murders in Dostoyevsky's novels, and then posit that it says something awful about Christianity.  Ha!

But first, I present to you :

ET as Dostoyevski Novel, or ,"As usual, art from the keyboard":


The following is a comment I wrote in response to TBG's comment in response to ChrisCook's diary in response to Jerome's response to everyone's response to some people's response to Sven's diary about bears.  (<--Note the curious appearance of Russian iconography.  You will be tested on its meaning later.)

Bold brackets represent commentary not in the original.

I think people stopped - for a while, temporarily, and in specific instances - seeing the other posters here as people and started treating them as personifications of arguments and beliefs. Usually ones they really really really didn't like much.

All of the mad threads seemed to have this in common. Instead of specific posters we suddenly 'That person who represents this evil thing, and therefore...'   [That Brit Guy's comment]

This is spot on, from what I can glean.    

Moreover, people have not just been treated as personifications of arguments and beliefs, but somewhat confined to roles.  X is the new age person, X is the anarchist, X is the intolerant atheist, X is the nationalist, X is the Atlanticist, X is the troublemaker, X is the clown, X is the curmudgeon, X is the diva...   It's probably quite natural and not meant to be malicious.  But this is real life, not a novel or play, and no one consistently represents one idea or fills one role.   Especially here at ET where people are constantly having their horizons expanded and being asked to prove the credibility of their assertions and to step out of their comfort zones.

Many of the recent tiffs make no sense to many of us; the responses seems so unnecessarily disproportionate or overly sensitive and feel distracting.  Perhaps, rather than taking comments in their immediate and logical context, we may be interpreting them according to our preconceived ideas about the person(s) making them or our expectations of their ulterior motivations.  

This is a pet peeve of mine because 1) fault is just as likely to lie with the person's preconceived ideas as with the person whose comments are being judged, 2) no one acts consistently over time: our personal mood, new information, or comfort with our situation can determine our motives just as much as any ideology or personality trait and 3) even if the preconceived ideas are correct, the comments may still have a good point, which will be missed because our focus was elsewhere, looking for the fault.  [This is what I'd say about Western media coverage of Russia if I were ever invited to be on the Charlie Rose Show.  I've been practicing.]

And if your are looking for something, you might think you've found it when it isn't even there. [Like maybe if you are looking for comparisons to Dostoyevsky]   It's called a bias.  We notice it when journalists write about France or Russia and it drives us berserk.  We notice it when fundamentalists explain events which have quite logical causes as conspiracies or divine plans and it makes us exasperated.  But ... are we willing to acknowledge that we too sometimes fall into this intellectual laziness?  I mean, we're a pretty freaking intelligent group here.  We'll admit to all kinds of vices and lurid activities and shortcomings.  But not bias.  Not intellectual shortcuts!  That's ET's version of the Holy Grail.  Which may be why we seem to be dancing around a problem while not solving it or communicating past each other.  Maybe that's the elephant in the room.  Even we are capable of bias - even against one another.  Even we are susceptible to allowing our emotions and agendas trump our critical reasoning abilities.  Even we might invent a narrative about ET to counter the annoying phenomenon of stuff not always making sense in a way that conforms to our worldview.  Can it be possible?  And can we graciously acknowledge its possibility without taking a severe hit to our pride?  [I really expected this to piss everyone off.  It didn't.  Other times I say perfectly innocuous things and everyone gets pissed off.  WTF?]

Look, we might be exceptional, but we are not THAT exceptional.  Of course we do these things.  This is a blog, a medium that hardly encourages reflection and patience and with-holding of judgement!  We are not robots.  We are not omniscient.  We are humans with infinite demands on our lives.  We are not Dostoevsky characters who are good ideas or bad ideas walking about on 2 legs.  And let me remind you, that those Dostoevsky characters were like masters of the flame war.  

OMG maybe this IS a Dostoevsky novel!!!  [For real, that just came to me while I was typing my comment!]  Think about it.  You have the believers and the non-believers.  The hedonists and the stoics.  The progressive reformers and the commie anarchists.  The nobility and the riff-raff.  The ruined women and the unrequited love.  The hysterics and the philosophical debates.  The plots, the plans, the people who show up outta nowhere and ruffle things up.  The manifestos.  No murders so far.  But how many of us belong to that "people with names no one can spell" fb group?  And wasn't Twank just suggesting a fancy-dress ball?  Uh huh... [This is probably really the only section of this comment I needed to use for this diary.  Too late now.]

Well, either this 1) is a Dostoevsky novel, which means we're all not real people and someone is going to get killed and there's nothing any of us can do about it or 2) is not a Dostoevsky novel, which means we're each more than characters who personify an idea or archetype and so it would behoove us to keep that in mind was we do this blogging thing.  And also no one has to get killed.  

Which is good.

Then Ceebs said something about art, Mig asked for a diary, Swedish Kind of Death (whom I always mentally call "Swedish Fish") asked what the hell I have against "X" and I plagiarized the wiki entry for Godwin's law:

Poemless's Law (also known as Poemless's Rule of Dostoyevskian Likeness) is an adage formulated by poemless in 2009. The law states: "As ET grows older, the probability of its members resembling characters from a novel by Feodor Dostoyevsky approaches one."

It should be cataloged right after Orlov's Law which states "As time passes at ET, the probability of someone mentioning the "Collapse Gap" approaches one."

When I wrote my response to TBG, I was pretty certain the psychological phenomenon of "When you have a hammer (read: Russian Lit. degree), everything looks like a nail (read: a Russian novel)" was at work.  I read, "started treating them as personifications of arguments and beliefs," and immediately recalled Marco's diary about The Idiot, in which I wrote, "Dostoyevsky is much like Dickens in that just about every character "represents" some idea, or philosophy, or element of society.  While their actions might not seem integral to the plot, they're meant to personify ideas, illustrate their consequences or nature, be examples in a larger debate."

A brief biography of Feodor Dostoyevsky:  Dostoyevsky was your run-of-the mill progressive intellectual.  The kind who reads philosophy and champions civil rights and goes to meet-ups.  (<-- Pay attention.  This will be very important.)  One day the Tsar flipped out and sentenced him to death for his subversive behavior, but by divine intervention, Dostoyevsky's life was spared, and then in prison, he became a strange breed of Christian and Slavophile and wrote these madly brilliant and highly entertaining novels.  

His novels, which often get a bad rap for their length, are actually page-turning thrillers.  They are like lurid soap operas and crime novels, only instead of monosyllabic bimbos or quirky cops, the characters are philosophies and religions and political ideologies and sociological archetypes.  Still, there is lust, greed, murder, heartbreak, and countless scenes in which someone just has to go and say the wrong thing and, lo, a provincial flame war erupts.  Business as usual stops and people suddenly all lose their senses and accusations fly and everyone runs about looking for the person to blame.  They are experiments of what happens if you take any ideology (or lack thereof) to its logical extreme.  They are condemnations of society that breeds suffering and indifference.  They are tug-of-wars between the obligation to be morally decent and good and rationally objective and just.  And illustrations of just how practically impossible that is.

Jerome recently wrote, regarding the recent chaos at ET:

Beyond the gap on what could be called the rationality vs spirituality divide [...] it seems to me that the most relevant distinction is still between insiders and outsiders, incrementalists vs revolutionaries, or "realists" vs idealists" (all different labels for the same thing: those inside the system, or benefitting from ot, who want to improve it, and those outside it, or abused by it, who want to get rid of it).

It strikes me that this could easily have been lifted from an undergraduate paper on The Demons.  

In the name of truth and reconciliation, I am not caring at all if you believe that the dynamics at ET eerily mimic those in a 19th century novel because of some magical Dr. Who-like disturbance of the line which separates reality from imagination.  However, if you are interested in a more reasonable and less exciting explanation, you'll be relieved to learn there is one.

Everyone open your books to The Petrashevsky Circle:

The Petrashevsky Circle was a Russian literary discussion group of progressive-minded commoner-intellectuals in St. Petersburg organized by Mikhail Petrashevsky, a follower of the French utopian socialist Charles Fourier. Among the members were writers, teachers, students, minor government officials, army officers, and so on. While not uniform in their political views, most of them were opponents of the tsarist autocracy and the Russian serfdom. Among those connected with the circle were the writers Dostoyevsky and Saltykov-Shchedrin and the poets Pie shcheyev, Maikov, and Taras Shevchenko.[1]

Like the Lyubomudry group founded earlier in the century, the purpose of the circle was to discuss Western philosophy (specifically Hegel and others) and literature which was officially banned by the Imperial government of Nicholas I.

Nicholas I, worried that the revolutions of 1848 would spread to Russia, mistook the largely harmless group for a subversive revolutionary organization. He closed the circle in 1849 and arrested and incarcerated its members. Fyodor Dostoyevsky was even sentenced to death in 1849 for his involvement, but was reprieved to serve six years in prison.

That's right.  Fedya spent his free time fraternizing with social-justice-minded political types who were followers of some French utopian socialist, people who came from all kinds of backgrounds and who got their kicks discussing philosophy.  Huh.  Well that's funny...  Because... Dude, that's just spooky.  Even spookier: if the debates in his novels are any indication, these intellectual types also talked a lot about trains, relations between Russia and Europe, and the merits of pure reason v. mysticism.  And were prone to passionate outbursts and disagreements.  

Whoa.

What have we learned today?  

Fuck - I don't even know.  I've gone and confused myself.  The morally decent and good part of my says we should treat each other like the vulnerable and complex humans we are.  The intellectual part of me thinks it is clear that we are actually not humans but some incarnation of the madness borne out of an epileptic Russian mind.  The just part of me tells me to get the hell out of ET while I am still alive, before I end up in a gulag or murdered by someone.  Dostoyevsky would have us err on the side of the morally decent and good because those intellectual types always turn out to be blood-thirsty nihilists.  Plus, I know for a fact Mr.D would be a blogger if he were alive today, based on the existence of this.  Which is basically a blog without technology.  So today we have learned that we should be kind and blog.  Even if we are true believers and commie nihilists.  

Be kind, and write.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ok, since this is an Odds & Ends and not meant to be pedantic or scare the pants off you, let's - hypothetically ... or on the off-chance we are in fact incarnations of the madness borne of an epileptic Russian mind, find out what character you are.  We won't put you in a box.  Unless we really are characters, but then, it would be Dostoyevsky who is putting you in a box, technically, so blame him.  

I'll go first: Nastasya Filippovna

Of the many characters we see in Dostoyevsky's novels, few of the principal characters are female. However, in one of his more famous novels, The Idiot, we find perhaps one of the strongest female characters of most nineteenth-century literature, if not of Europe, then at least of Russia. Nastasya Filippovna, a proud, yet exploited woman, is by far one of Dostoyevsky's most intriguing characters. She has an instantaneous and dramatic affect on the characters surrounding her. Nastasya Filippovna has been systematically destroyed by her surroundings. She finds she is unable to survive in the society of her time. Valued by men only for her beauty or her possessions, feared by jealous women, Nastasya Filippovna succumbs to insanity and finally, her own murder. Believing herself to be guilty and in need of punishment and purification, Nastasya Filippovna fights yet, finally, submits herself to destructive forces that surround her. (...)

The first time Nastasya Filippovna is actually seen in the novel is not until the end of Chapter Eight in Part One. Her presence at Ganya's is unexpected and arouses a great deal of activity. From her first entrance, we see that she has undergone some changes since the milder, forgiving Nastasya Filippovna at the end of Chapter Four. Her eyes "flashed in annoyance" at the sight of the Prince, not knowing who he was, presuming him to be a servant, "flung" her coat at him (107). This starling and unusual entrance allows the reader to see Nastasya Filippovna in a the height of her pride, the pinnacle of her haughty behavior. Her tone is harsh and condescending, she commands respect almost to the point of fear. She has a regal presence that immediately captures our attention.

This scene reveals a great deal about Nastasya Filippovna's apparently free laugh and haughty attitude. We learn that she "laughed in fact, and hid her feelings beneath a show of good humour" (107). Rejected by Ganya's mother and sister, Nastasya Filippovna makes little attempt to make them feel comfortable in her presence. Their coldness towards her "...seemed only to intensify her gaiety" (114). Nastasya Filippovna laughs "hysterically" and "continued laughing" (122), even during Rogozhin¹s attempt at "purchasing" her. Nastasya Filippovna makes no false pretences about who she likes or not. She asks questions then does not wait for the response, cutting off the speaker, making them feel small and ridiculous. Her laughing, almost to the point of wild and insane, is prominant particularly in this section. (...)

From the beginning of Part One, Nastasya Filippovna appears to be a fascinating, wild creature who is rebelling against the "natural&" role of woman for her time. The shock and scandal that seems to surround her exploits suggests that her actions are not within the confines of her "role". However, the more we come to know her the more we see that she has been exploited by society of the time and the men that surround her and desire to possess her. Unable to stand up under the destructive forces that surrounded her, the strongest, most promising character was reduced to insanity by Dostoyevsky. It seems that he may sympathize with her situation, given the use of word choice we have seen, and even some of the ironic, yet sad depiction of a young girl violated. She has been refused her own identity and "renounc[es] the world...[she] has almost ceased to exist and [she] know[s] it" (480). Nastasya Filippovna must die to escape the tragic and unjust plight of a woman scorned.

(BTW, I am pretty sure that Heath Ledger's Joker is based on the character of Pyotr Stepanovich Verkhovensky.)

Poll
Which Dostoyevsky character are you?
. Fyodor Karamazov 0%
. Dmitri Karamazov 11%
. Ivan Karamazov 0%
. Alexei Karamazov 0%
. Father Zosima 0%
. Nikolai Stavrogin 0%
. Pyotr Verkhovensky 11%
. Kirilov 0%
. Prince Myshkin 22%
. Nastasya Filippovna 22%
. Rogozhin 0%
. Raskolnikov 11%
. Sofia Semyonovna Marmeladova 0%
. The Underground Man 22%

Votes: 9
Results | Other Polls
Display:
Something's different about the layout here now.  But I don't know what.

"Talking nonsense is the sole privilege mankind possesses over the other organisms." -Dostoevsky
by poemless on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 06:32:29 PM EST
European Tribune - Odds & Ends: ET as Dostoyevsky Novel Edition
Be kind, and write.

yes...

great diary!

after blogging now for 6 years, (damn, has it really been that long?), i have learned, finally, to make a great distinction.

Comments clash, not people

comments fly out of the opinions posters hold at that moment in time, and as such are purely ephemeral, while people are real, yet we can't know more than tantalising hints of who the real person behind the posts is.

for (most of) those sticking around at ET, there is a sanding down of the spikiness in commenting style, a style that comes in bristling or mouthy (might be a holdover of adequate strategy for getting ahead in meatworld), but here it jars the equilibrium people attain through calmly, candidly and politely challenging each other to grow and optimise communication. it's a splendid school!

it's all too easy for a cherished opinion to give a post a whiff of attitude, and with the world in the state it's in, i dare say many of us are holding dry tinder, needing only a spark to conflagrate.

comments clash, that can be healthy, if civility is retained. thanks for all those who set a good example to me, of how to plug into ET for what's wonderful about it, avoiding all friction.

there are some real peace artists here at the waterhole, i admire that enormously, seeing ever more strife is such a waste of precious time and energy.  

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 08:05:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The description of the Petrashevsky Circle definitely seems applicable to this group. Hell, there's even a crazy power-mad leader named Nicolas involved!

I'm sure the comparison has its limits, but I found it to have some value.

Plus I always enjoy your diaries because the warm my own Russian history-loving heart. If I wasn't linguistically-challenged I might have made 20th century Russia/USSR my PhD field instead of the 20th century USA.

When I was a teenager and read Crime and Punishment in high school I was sure I was Raskolnikov. Perhaps I still am - haven't read the book in about 15 years.

And the world will live as one

by Montereyan (robert at calitics dot com) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 07:09:42 PM EST
I think there are perhaps more Raskolnikovs here than we admit.  

Now people are probably going to read that and think I mean murderers, unfortunately...

"Talking nonsense is the sole privilege mankind possesses over the other organisms." -Dostoevsky

by poemless on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 01:15:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Of which I am one, apparently!

"Talking nonsense is the sole privilege mankind possesses over the other organisms." -Dostoevsky
by poemless on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 03:24:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have for quite some time had the nagging feeling that we are backing into the 19th century again. Iirc,  Kropotkin mentions the Terrorists among the many revolutionary gruops, taking their name from their wish to strike terror into the heart of th Tsar and his rling clique. Just to pull an example out of the hat.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 07:14:31 PM EST
'The Internet treats Tsarism as damage and routes around it'?
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 07:37:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No kidding.  Masterpiece Theater is showing Oliver Twist, and they introduce it by talking about how Dickens's world is all too painfully similar to our current lives.  

BTW, do they eat Swedish fish in Sweden?  

"Talking nonsense is the sole privilege mankind possesses over the other organisms." -Dostoevsky

by poemless on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 01:20:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh yes, but of course it is not called swedish fish here. It is either Pastellfiskar or Salta fiskar (which taste salmiak). And the salmiak one is far more common and popular then the sweet ones. Though apparently there are taste differences. Wikipedia to the rescue

In Sweden the candy is marketed under the name Pastellfiskar, literally "pastel fishes" (in the meaning "pale in color"). Indeed, the fishes in Sweden are much paler in color with the yellow being nearly translucent and cream colored. The exception is the black fish which lacks any translucency. The taste also differs slightly with the Swedish version being somewhat less sweet but more fruit-flavored, especially the yellow one which is more tangy. The green fish, on the other hand, is not lime flavored (the green candy color in Scandinavia is in general associated with apple or pear flavor rather than lime). In texture, they are slightly thicker, have the text "Malaco" instead of "Swedish" embossed, and stick less to the teeth.[original research?]

Mmmm, salmiak. Sweet taste of ammonium chloride.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 02:59:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
salmiak?

It that like licorice?  There used to be a German grocer by me, and they had a whole aisle of strange European licorice candy.  There were these salty, kitty-cat shaped ones...  strange stuff.  

Swedish fish in the States are red and this intensely sweet flavor.  They are addictive.  Something about the texture and the flavor made me reel when I was a kid.  On rare occasions my mother would let me pick out some candy if we were out shopping, and I always got Swedish fish.  Now you can buy them anywhere, but back then, the only place I saw them was at the shopping mall where they had candy in bulk, scooped it out and weighed it for you, like in the olden days.  I think that's what made it a special treat.  

It looks like their slogan is "A Friend You Can EatTM" LOL!

"Talking nonsense is the sole privilege mankind possesses over the other organisms." -Dostoevsky

by poemless on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 03:11:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Fish ? Ah, an unconscious acknowledgment that David Lodge's Small World is the more apt comparison with ET :-) - as ceebs puts it: "I refer the author to my previous ... comment".


Last Friday, Stanley Fish wrote an essay in the New York Times attacking the "Civic Responsibility of Higher Education" and everything that document stands for. Fish is a brilliant Milton critic, controversialist, and builder of academic empires. It's said that he's proud to be the model for Morris Zapp, the cigar-chomping, aphorism-dispensing, fast-car-driving, bed-hopping hero/villain of two David Lodge novels, whose ambitions include being the best paid English professor in the world and saying everything that can possibly be said about Jane Austen, so that everyone else will have to shut up about her. The "Civic Responsibility of Higher Education," meanwhile, is a sober and idealistic statement of the university's role in democracy, written by some distinguished members of my organization's Advisory Board and signed by 528 college presidents.

[Lodge picked the right guy to satirize, he comes out with such pompous crap as this:]

    You cannot raise the standard against oppression, or leap into the breach to relieve injustice, and still keep an open mind to every disconcerting fact, or an open ear to the cold voice of doubt. I am satisfied that a scholar who tries to combine those parts sells his birthright for a mess of pottage; that, when the final count is made, it will be found that the impairment of his powers far outweighs any possible contribution to the causes he has espoused. If he is fit to serve in his calling at all, it is only because he has learned not to serve in any other, for his singleness of mind quickly evaporates in the fires of passions, however holy. ("The Spirit of Liberty," p. 138)

http://www.peterlevine.ws/mt/archives/2004/05/stanley-fish-vs.html  (well worth reading)



Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 03:59:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Uhm maybe you should just write your own Odds & Ends: ET as David Lodge Novel Edition.

"Talking nonsense is the sole privilege mankind possesses over the other organisms." -Dostoevsky
by poemless on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 04:01:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Please.

"Talking nonsense is the sole privilege mankind possesses over the other organisms." -Dostoevsky
by poemless on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 04:01:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Temper, temper :-)

No, to do my own diary on Lodge would ruin the further allusion to Lodge's formal devices by my intertextual interventions here - in my attempt to make THIS even more of a "mosaic of intertexts" (see below) - by playing a Fish/Zapp-like critical commentator role  :-) Here I make further intertextual play with a text on Lodge and intertextuality (as someone interested in literature I think you'll love this  :-) ):

The original title of this paper, proposed to the Advisory Committee of this Conference, was "David Lodge's Small World: Literary Evocations and Intertextuality," ... However, during the course of my readings and re-readings of Lodge's text for this paper, Julia Kristeva's following statement on intertextuality was always in my mind:


Any text is constructed as a mosaic of quotations; any text is the absorption and transformation of another (37).

... So, both to give the title of the paper an intertextual feel by alluding to Kristeva's notion of a text as "a mosaic" and to emphasize Lodge's deliberate but exceedingly playful and sophisticated practice of intertextuality in Small World (hereafter cited as SW) I have re-entitled the paper as
"David Lodge's Small World: A Mosaic of Intertexts.

Anyway - I'm playing here as displacement activity to avoid working on two other diaries :-) And I think, to refer to ceebs (again) referring to Tarantino (himself a major exponent of intertextuality), that if you have character, why identify with a fictional character?  


Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 04:35:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Salty licorice is salty from the salmiak. It is licorice the way it was meant to be eaten. Sadly appreciated only in a small corner of the world. Though you can ususally get them at IKEA when travelling.

poemless:

There were these salty, kitty-cat shaped ones...  strange stuff.  

Like these?

The sweet fish would be these:

But as you can see in Sweden they are stamped with the company name, as swedish fish makes little sense in Sweden. And the salty one is superior to the sweet ones.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 06:56:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I refer the author to my earlier art comment.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 07:29:09 PM EST
Great diary - shame about the theory :-) Nah, nothing like Dostoyevsky, his work has stuff like murder, not little squabbles, and it's localised. Clearly ET is much more like a David Lodge novel, with its fierce but trivial academic disputes and globalised settings. I was tempted to pick Nice Work for an enirely spurious personal reason. But it has to be "Small World" - how apt :-)


 The reason why I thought of using the Grail legend in Small World is a very simple one. When I started thinking about the novel, I wanted to deal with the phenomenon of global academic travel. The idea came to me at a James Joyce conference in Zurich, which in fact is one of the settings for the novel. I was getting into that international conference-going circuit myself for the first time. Indeed I went straight from Zurich to another conference in Israel. I was intrigued by the conjunction of high-level academic discussion with a certain amount of partying and tourism; by the mixture of cultures; and by the idea of people, all of whom know each other, converging from all over the world on various exotic places to talk about fairly esoteric subjects, and then flying off, only to meet each other again in another exotic venue. This is where I started: a kind of academic comedy of manners, with a global dimension.

http://www.lib.rochester.edu/Camelot/intrvws/lodge.htm

Like ET !  and it includes: "jousting with each other" :-)  

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 07:34:03 PM EST
Great diary P.

Well, great in the sense that once I started I couldn't put it down and wanted it to keep going.

Since I've never read Mr. D. I can't really say if you are on to something or not and I certainly can't identify myself as a character created by Mr. D. (Actually I did read Notes from the Underground back in Law School in a Law & Literature class, but that was a long time ago and I don't remember much about it except that it was hard to follow).  

And while you've convinced me that I must finally bring myself to read one of Mr. D's BIG novels, it will have to wait until I finish Tolstoy since I committed to Anna Karenina last September and I'm still not finished with it.  (Life interfered.)

by Maryb2004 on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 12:55:53 AM EST
In what sense is it not great?

Forget Tolstoy.  Honestly - I'd rather put pins in my eyes.  How anything can be so epic and tedious at the same time, I don't know.  (I do like his short stories...)  

"Talking nonsense is the sole privilege mankind possesses over the other organisms." -Dostoevsky

by poemless on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 01:30:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Are you kidding?  I'm loving Anna - it's a giant soap opera.   With none of that philosophical stuff you say Dostoyevsky has.  No need to think - just enjoy.

Now, I'll grant you that these are characters that go through enormous thought processes to make a decision and then in the next chapter something happens, they change their mind and the whole thought process starts all over again. But since I overthink everything, I'm good with that.

by Maryb2004 on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 02:52:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ok.  Just don't, you know, fling yourself in front of a train or anything...

"Talking nonsense is the sole privilege mankind possesses over the other organisms." -Dostoevsky
by poemless on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 03:23:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But the train of history will run over you anyway:


    "In historical events great men - so-called - are but labels serving to give a name to the event, and like labels they have the least possible connection with the event itself. Every action of theirs, that seems to them an act of their own free will, is in an historical sense not free at all, but in bondage to the whole course of previous history, and predestined from all eternity."

Tolstoy, War and Peace



Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 04:49:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well NOW you've ruined it :)
by Maryb2004 on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 04:57:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Some days I think I am The Idiot.

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 03:29:59 AM EST
sorry Migs, that's already taken.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 03:46:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You think you are christ-like?

 

"Talking nonsense is the sole privilege mankind possesses over the other organisms." -Dostoevsky

by poemless on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 01:38:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]


you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 04:25:17 AM EST
This may be the funniest poster I've ever seen in my life. I can haz copy?
by PIGL (stevec@boreal.gmail@com) on Sat Feb 28th, 2009 at 10:09:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This may be the funniest poster I've ever seen in my life. I can haz copy?
by PIGL (stevec@boreal.gmail@com) on Sat Feb 28th, 2009 at 10:10:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
duplicate comment alert!

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 28th, 2009 at 10:13:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
therefore, I will refrain from commenting.  However, in the spirit of taking part in your poll, if you are looking for my character, look no further.

My allegiance to the human species ends at the California border.
by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 10:56:59 AM EST
To Quote Mr Wolf from Pulp Fiction

Just Because You ARE a Character, Doesn't Mean You HAVE Character.

;-)

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 11:00:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Morning/Afternoon ceebs.  When did I ever claim to HAVE character? :)

P.S. Where's the Fri OT?  I've got some stuff, as promised.

My allegiance to the human species ends at the California border.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 11:06:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The plot deepens and the eerie similarities go much further:

I am in fact also a follower of Fourier. Well, okay, a different Fourier, but still. At the very least I seem to be using his transform a lot.

As for which character I am: I have read only Crime and Punishment, a long time ago in High School. However the Character Selector for Crime and punishment(scroll all the way down after submitting. you don't have to sing up) informs me that I am:
Dmitri Prokofich Razumikhin

Dmitri Prokofich Razumikhin (Дмитрий Прокофьич Разумихин) - Raskolnikov's loyal and only friend. In terms of Razumikhin's contribution to Dostoevsky's anti-radical thematics, he is intended to represent something of a reconciliation of the pervasive thematic conflict between faith and reason. The fact that his name means reason shows Dostoevsky's desire to employ this faculty as a foundational basis for his Christian faith in God.
by someone (s0me1smail(a)gmail(d)com) on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 01:22:47 PM EST
Oh dear.  I came up as Raskolnikov.  

"Talking nonsense is the sole privilege mankind possesses over the other organisms." -Dostoevsky
by poemless on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 01:42:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But I'm afraid you're just another Raskolnikov, because you missed this hint in poemless' roman à clef:

while I am still alive, before I end up in a gulag or murdered by someone

Hmmm, so many murderers around here...

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 01:46:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Me too

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 01:46:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Good grief! Me too!

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 01:51:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Avdotya Romanovna Raskolnikova here with Dmitri Prokofich Razumikhin as close second.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 03:07:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Omg.  Did other people have "close seconds?"  I had, like, 100% Raskolnikov!  This is freaking me out.  

"Talking nonsense is the sole privilege mankind possesses over the other organisms." -Dostoevsky
by poemless on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 03:15:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I had the same exact combo as Swedish -- what does it mean?!?

Maybe we can eventually make language a complete impediment to understanding. -Hobbes
by Izzy (izzy at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 04:53:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I look like I'm almost tied between Razumihkin (#1) and Semyon Zakharovich Marmeladov (#2).  

Of course, I have no idea who those characters are but some day it will all make sense to me.

by Maryb2004 on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 04:39:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I come up as Avdotya Romanovna Raskolnikova
with Katerina Ivanovna Marmeladova and Sofya Semyonovna Marmeladova tied for n°2 ...

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 05:04:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You would marry to save your family from shame.

"Talking nonsense is the sole privilege mankind possesses over the other organisms." -Dostoevsky
by poemless on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 05:37:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Certainly not!

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 06:21:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No surprise here - as I predicted above, I'm still Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov.

And the world will live as one
by Montereyan (robert at calitics dot com) on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 08:51:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm a hopeless but amiable drunk who indulges in his own suffering

(...)

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sat Feb 28th, 2009 at 11:53:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
An excellent read, as usual.

Between the bears and Dostoyevsky, we may have it covered. The two sides of anal. Reason and hormones. There are messages in both.

Watched Shawshank Redemption, would you believe, for the first time today. A very good movie imo. It also appears to continue to top the DVD rental charts, nearly 15 years after it was made. 3 quid in W H Smith. A bargain.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 01:47:30 PM EST
I have trouble believing you've missed it beforehand.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 01:49:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is true, M'Lud...

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 01:51:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Another point for David Lodge


Lodge invented a literary parlour game called 'Humiliation' in Changing Places, which remains popular at dinner parties. Players name classics of literature that they have not read, the winner being the one who exhibits the most woeful literary lacuna. In Changing Places, Lodge's obnoxious American academic, Howard Ringbaum, admits that he has never read Hamlet - and thus wins the game (but loses his job). Lodge himself owns up to War and Peace.

He seems to be in accird with poemless about Tolstoy.

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 02:49:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Between Ivan Karamazov (disclaimer:I passed an exam the subject of which was The Great Inquisitor scene) and Prince Mychkin...

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 02:22:37 PM EST
Elaborate, please.  

I think my favorite characters are Myshkin and Nikolai Stavrogin.  I relate most to Nastasia Fillipovna and Ivan.  Sometimes, instead of explaining my "religious" views, I find it easier to just refer people to Ivan's monologue in the chapter, "Rebellion."

It seems Myshkin and Ivan "represent" incompatible ideas.  But in practice, they are somewhat similar, interestingly...


"Talking nonsense is the sole privilege mankind possesses over the other organisms." -Dostoevsky

by poemless on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 02:29:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Your comment is on google already. To clarify it a bit for those of us who haven't read the Bros:


 He demands retribution, and not in some infinite time or space, but here on earth (i.e. Ivan rejects any eschatological solution to the problem). He rejects the view that there is some higher harmony that these things serve (i.e. he rejects any aesthetic conception of evil), declares that he could not accept any harmony that required the intense sufferings of such innocent children, and ends with a statement of rebellion against God, saying:

    "It's not God that I don't accept, Alyosha, only I most respectfully return Him the ticket." (Karamazov, p. 226)

The force of Ivan's indictment of the world's injustice is so great that he compels even Alyosha to admit that the situation as described requires rebellion.

    "Rebellion? I'm sorry you call it that," said Ivan earnestly. "One can hardly live in rebellion, and I want to live. Tell me yourself, I challenge you -- answer. Imagine that you are creating a fabric of human destiny with the object of making men happy in the end, giving them peace and rest at last, but that it was essential and inevitable to torture to death only one tiny creature -- that little child beating its breast with its fist, for instance -- and to found that edifice on its unavenged tears, would you consent to bet the architect on those conditions? Tell me, and tell the truth." "No, I wouldn't consent," said Alyosha softly. (Ibid.)

http://www.tparents.org/Library/Unification/Talks/Eby/Eby-Theodicy-b.htm



Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.
by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 03:04:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks.

"Talking nonsense is the sole privilege mankind possesses over the other organisms." -Dostoevsky
by poemless on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 03:22:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Who chose Verkhovensky?

"Talking nonsense is the sole privilege mankind possesses over the other organisms." -Dostoevsky
by poemless on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 03:25:15 PM EST


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